Former funeral home owner sentenced to 20 years in prison for selling body parts
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A US woman has been sentenced to 20 years in prison after selling body parts of the dead.
Megan Hess, 46, a former Colorado funeral home owner, was sentenced to the lengthy term on Tuesday (3 January) for defrauding relatives of the dead.
Hess did this by charging families up to $1,000 for cremations that never took place. She would go on to dissect 560 corpses, before selling the body parts without permission.
The woman pleaded guilty to fraud back in July, with the 20-year imprisonment the maximum allowed under law.
Mesa's mum - 69-year-old Shirly Koch - was also involved in the criminal act, with her also pleading guilty to fraud and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
While Mesa was selling the body parts, court records show that Koch's main role was to chop up the bodies.
In a court filling, prosecutor Tim Neff, said: "Hess and Koch used their funeral home at times to essentially steal bodies and body parts using fraudulent and forged donor forms.
"Hess and Koch's conduct caused immense emotional pain for the families and next of kin."
Prosecutors also said in the filing that Hess' scheme was one of the most significant body part cases on recent US history.
As a result, Judge Christine M. Arguello had no hesitation in sending both Hess and Koch to prison for their actions.
She said: "This is the most emotionally draining case I have ever experienced on the bench.
"It's concerning to the court that defendant Hess refuses to assume any responsibility for her conduct."
Hess refused to speak to the judge on Tuesday, with her lawyer saying that she was unfairly vilified as a 'witch', a 'monster and a 'ghoul'.
Her mum, Koch, did speak to the judge saying that she was sorry and took full responsibility for her actions.
A total of 26 victims in court described the horror they had suffered following what had happened to their family members.
Tina Shannon, who had her mum dismembered without permission, told the court: "I've worn many masks to cover the pain. I'll never be OK."
Meanwhile, another victim, Nancy Overhoff, said: "When Megan stole my mom's heart, she broke mine."
The case comes to a closer following a brutal five years of investigation, after the FBI raided the Hess' businesses in 2018.